Why Am I Leaving the 10 Pin?

Why the 10 Pin Won't Fall and How to Correct It

Bowling Ball Hitting pins
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One of bowling's greatest sources of frustration is the 10 pin. It's typically the hardest single-pin spare to pick up, and it often remains standing after what seemed like a perfect strike ball. Fortunately, the problem is fixable, and the fix is not overly complicated.

But here's a word of warning: This fix is designed for right-handed bowlers—they're the most likely to have trouble with the 10 pin. It does not apply to left-handers. 

Why Are You Missing That 10 Pin?

It's easy to attribute a standing 10 pin to bad luck, and this might be its cause from time to time. But if you're consistently leaving the 10 pin, something is obviously off. Most likely, it's your entry angle.

When you're knocking down every pin but the 10, you're either coming in light—the 3 pin hits the back of the 6, pushing it in front of the 10—or you're coming in heavy. Coming in heavy forces the 3 pin to hit at the front of the 6, sending it to the back of the 10.​ If you're coming in light, your ball lacks sufficient velocity by the time it enters the pocket. If you're coming in heavy, your ball has too much energy left in it. Either way, the 10 remains the last man standing. 

Take note of what the 3 and the 6 pins are doing the next time you're bowling. If you see the 6 missing in front of the 10, you're coming in light, and if you see it hitting behind, you're coming in heavy. Even if you can't quite tell, you can use these simple adjustments to help you figure out your solution.​​

If You're Coming in Light

You have to get your ball out of the oil sooner if you're coming in light. This will allow it to come into the pocket stronger and with a better angle. You can try one of two methods. Both are relatively simple. 

  • Move 1/2 to two boards left on the approach, but keep your same target.
  • Move 4 to 6 inches back on the approach, but keep your same target.

If you're more comfortable moving laterally, try that first. If you prefer moving forward and backward, try that first. In some cases, depending on the lane, you may have to do both. You should start seeing more strikes and less 10-pin leaves. 

If You're Coming in Heavy

The fixes for coming in heavy are exactly the opposite from what you would do if you were coming in light.

  • Move 1/2 to two boards right on the approach, but keep your same target.
  • Move 4 to 6 inches forward on the approach, but keep your same target.

The 10 pin will likely forever perplex right-handed bowlers, but if you pay attention to your shots and to what your ball is doing, you can correct things before they get too bad.